Patricia Arquette and Jake Weber talk about this hit NBC series talk about the show's return.
Medium returns with all new episodes on Monday, February 2 at 10 PM ET on NBC and two of the stars want to tell you all about it. Patricia Arquette and Jake Weber recently held a conference call to discuss the series' return, and here's what they had to say.
So I was wondering if, first off, since doing the show have you tried having your own ghost hunting experiences or maybe some séances, anything like that?
Patricia Arquette: Jake, have you?
Jake Weber: I'm actually having one right now.
Patricia Arquette: Aren't you a ghost?
Jake Weber: I'm having a séance; I have a Ouija Board right now.
Patricia Arquette: I'm telling you how to answer these questions. No, I mean, when I was little we used to goof around like that all the time and, you know, be scared. I haven't done any kind of things like that. I have like kind of a fear and respect for whatever I don't understand. Don't mess around with it really.
And so like when you were kid was it - was it that, was it like Ouija Board and stuff?
Patricia Arquette: Yeah, Ouija Board and we used to do that, you know, what was that lady that you were supposed to call to in the mirror with the candle?
Oh like Bloody Mary?
Patricia Arquette: Yeah, Bloody Mary and stuff like that. But, you know, I mean we did have that weird experience where kids lift you up with their pinkies.
Oh yes, light as a feather, stiff as a board; that thing.
Patricia Arquette: Yeah, I don't know why that actually works but somehow kids could lift each other up with their pinkies. But that's the only thing I ever saw work.
Since you guys do the show are you kind of over it or have you become bigger believers or bigger skeptics do you feel?
Patricia Arquette: The only thing I have to say further about the Ouija Board is when I did this movie Stigmata, I met with this guy who did a lot of - not a lot but he did a few, you know, clearings of demons; he said never play with a Ouija Board. So that scared me. I think there's - I've always felt the same way, that I always knew that there was a lot of shenanigans going on with fake people who took advantage of people. So I always try to be cautious because usually people go to psychics when they're at their most vulnerable when they've lost someone or something really tragic is occurring in their life.
I've also seen people that have this incredible ability and I didn't have an explanation for it. So I just think you always have to know that everything will be revealed to you anyway as it's meant to be. I don't really feel like you have to have a middle man to tell your loved one on the other side what you want to tell them.
You're going into your fifth season, how are you guys as actors keeping the roles fresh for yourselves?
Patricia Arquette: I just - I've taken to pinching and hitting Jake. That helps me. Like I stomp on his toes right before we role or pinch him hard or something like that; that helps.
Jake Weber: I'm a meth addict so, but - it gets me through the day.
Patricia Arquette: He's not conscious anyway so it doesn't matter.
Just coasting through, right?
Jake Weber: Yeah it's just kind of like going home now. It's been five years and I think that Patricia and I see more of each other than we do our own families. And, you know, all the crews has been together for this long; it's sort of like - it sort of feels like home right now.
Patricia Arquette: You know, and I think also, I mean, the writers do a great job of keeping things interesting as an actor to play and new territory to explore. But then there's also aspects that I think for the show to work need to maintain a normalcy of life and life in general - family life is a little bit monotonous. So you kind of do end up playing some of the same things which is realistic. So you need that with this crazy kind of premise. I think you need that normalcy. And also that's part of to me what's interesting about doing a long-term project is it's like a long-term relationship; like you run into sort of one pattern and you keep doing that same pattern over and over and over again, then you have a breakthrough, then you go back to cases, then you keep doing the same pattern over and over again and you don't notice it.
So it's sort of what I - I struggle with sometimes and yet I also see the value in it and I see the realism in that also.
Jake Weber: I think also one of the advantages of doing a show for as long as we have and working with the same - working opposite the same people as long as we have is you just get - you don't get nervous anymore, you just get sort of - it's all sort of relaxed and you just kind of what to have a good time at work. And you want to have a good time when you're shooting so it's actually - you can be more playful and more spontaneous because there's really - there's nothing really at stake.
And I think that makes for better work. You know, as long as you have enough time to learn the lines and stuff it's fun. You know, we have a good time together.
Patricia Arquette: And then you also have a lot of directors come and go but because you're consistently working with each other and the crew, I mean, we have a very safe place to go did that suck? What do you think? Do you think I got there? Should we go again? And you kind of - or you ask each other once in a while for like hey, you got any ideas because I'm sort of coming up blank.
Jake Weber: You've never asked me that.
Patricia Arquette: I do too.
Jake Weber: Never in five years.
Patricia Arquette: Because you're not reading my mind.
Jake Weber: We don't speak.
How was your directing experience?
Patricia Arquette: You know, it was very humbling. I think it was a really good experience for me as far as being grateful to other directors because it's - you - I mean there was times where I felt like that person who's patting their head and rubbing their stomach and hopping because I was still acting in a lot of it and we didn't have playback.
And certain scenes my back was to the camera because I was doing this like secretive work I was working on. So I couldn't even see Jake's face. But I had to depend on a lot of other people. And I had a hard time casting this boy's part so I ended up calling my son the night before and telling him you have to do this for me. So it was really neat working with him but nerve wracking and exciting. But the whole thing was pretty humbling I've got to say and I have a lot of respect for directors.
So in what ways would you say - for both of you - has Medium evolved beyond whatever expectations you had heading into the show five years ago?
Jake Weber: We really didn't have any expectations. I mean, I think if you asked either of us five years that we'd be doing this, talking to you on the phone from our dressing rooms at Medium, it would just be surreal. The show sort of takes on a life of its own, you know, the writers and, I hadn't really had any expectations and I still really don't.
All I know is what I have most fun working on and that's when I think the show is the most successful is when the plot lines are integrated and the home life and Allison's work life intersect in a way; the two sort of story lines feed each other. That's when I think the show is at its most successful. And, you know, they've gotten better at that.
Patricia Arquette: Hey. Well me I didn't have any expectations, I mean, I was very ignorant about television and I was told if I did this pilot the chances are it would never even get aired so that it was such a long shot. But I really liked the material so I certainly didn't expect to be here in five years because people started making it clear to me how rare that was.
But I have seen a lot of transition I think when I look back - I just knew that there could be interesting stories for several years if that was the case. And I think the writers have done a very good job of being very inventive along the way.
And one of the major things I think that I knew would be interesting but I couldn't foresee exactly how because I have a 20-year-old son now, is the changes in the kids. I mean, when we started Ariel was just a little girl our character Ariel and now she's like a young woman. And the transitions that the kids go through and exploring that a little bit as a family I think is interesting. And I didn't really foresee it going so fast.
Obviously all of us on the phone have seen the first couple of new episodes but how would you set them up for viewers?
Jake Weber: Well the first one is a - has a very sort of intricate plot that involves a - who's this guest star - his name is - Max...
Patricia Arquette: ...Casella.
Jake Weber: What's - Max Casella, right. And he plays a guy who sort of comes back from the past and he has this sort of injury. It's very (sort of) complex - the A storyline. The B storyline involves little Bridgette drawing nude photographs of her teacher and it gets her in all sorts of problems.
Patricia Arquette: Nude drawings.
Jake Weber: Nude drawings, yeah.
Patricia Arquette: Yeah and we don't understand what's going on and, you know, as parents and you get worried has she been exposed to something.
Jake Weber: It turns - well you'll see how it turns out.
I was wondering how does things in the DuBois household seem to be getting back to normal? How long do you think that's going to last?
Jake Weber: I don't know. It's kind of nice to have the, you know, it was so dark for a couple of years, you know, which I kind of love, you know. But I think it's good to give them a little bit of relief. You know, they're still in a sort of economic - they're still in the same sort of spot that the country is in but they have a little sort of light at the end of the tunnel which - and they've been going through this tunnel for a couple of years so I think it's nice to give them a little bit of grace and a little bit of, you know, a little bit of happiness.
So basically you guys come up for some breathing room and then...
Jake Weber: Yeah, yeah. And they can start having some fun and stuff with it, you know.
|Now Patricia I also wanted to know what made you decide to peddle into the director's chair (this week)?
Patricia Arquette: I always wanted to check it out and see how it was. I mean, when you're in front of the camera for a lot of years on a show that has a specific style and rules as to our shooting you start feeling like you understand those rules. So I just wanted to check it out. I mean, there'd be moments where I felt like things weren't explored that I wish they could have been. But the reality is as director on one hour television or any kind of television I think you have - your hands are very tied.
But I just wanted to see what it was like and check it out and it's like using a completely different part of your brain; there was actually times when my head hurt. It felt like my brain was going to liquefy.
Jake, any interest in doing the same thing?
Jake Weber: I am more interested in directing theater than film or than TV. I'd like to direct something maybe film and TV but not on this only because I just - I don't know, I'd sort of like to come at it from a fresher perspective.
I also wanted to know - well I don't know if you guys know this or not but is there a difference between a psychic and a Medium or is it the same thing?
Patricia Arquette: I think they're the same thing. But, you know, for some reason Allison DuBois, the real Allison, really didn't like the word psychic; it conjured for her images of sort of people who were taking advantage of people and some kind if hippy thing. And she wasn't like that like crystals and incense. So for her that was important - the real woman originally.
I think it's interesting the world Medium instead of psychic, for me, reminds me more of how people who have had this relationship with the dead go back since early civilization and it's really a more antiquated word for this. But we've had them in the 20s and Mary Todd Lincoln, you know, used to have séances to try to get a hold of Abraham Lincoln. And on back, back, back, you know, Houdini and all his séances.
So those were Mediums and that's the way it used to be like someone in between both worlds.
Now with the episode Soul Survivor, Allison is dealing with the death of somebody that's associated with Devalos and I was just wondering is it easier or harder for Allison to tackle cases that involve people that are close to her?
Patricia Arquette: I think it's harder because she doesn't really see things clearly, as clearly with distance - have the same perspective as when it's somebody who's more disconnected from her own personal life or the needs of people she cares about.
Do you see that there's going to be any special guest stars this season; anybody we should look forward to seeing also in the show?
Patricia Arquette: Well we have some great guest stars - we have Blythe Danner come on this season and David Moore and Tracy Pollen, James Van Der Beek, sorry, Amanda Detmer...
Jake Weber: Kevin Corrigan.
Patricia Arquette: Yeah, Kevin Corrigan, my son Enzo Rossi and Kurtwood Smith came back. So and I think we're going to have some really interesting people for the last part of the season too.
I wanted to ask about the husband/wife relationship because it's something that seems pretty rare for, you know, a mystery or a crime solving show to go this deep into a relationship. I'm just wondering, you know, how the balance of that keeps the show interesting for you?
Patricia Arquette: For me that is the foundation and the heart and soul and really what I care about about the show and what I thought was interesting about it. I mean, of course I always thought the psychic aspect of it was interesting but I don't think I'd have the same connection if it hadn't been for the family stuff. And I didn't feel like there was really anyone really exploring a healthy marriage and family on television.
So for me that's crucial and when I feel like that's kind of waning that's when I get frustrated.
Jake Weber: I think that Glen Gordon Caron who is the sort of guiding spirit behind this whole thing he's always been interested in it - he's always been interested in this sort of love story. And as intricate and as well crafted the mystery plot lines are the heart and soul of the show is really in the family. And they're really sort of used as things to explore.
A woman and a man who come from very different places, very different world views who have a lovely family and who struggle with their relationship and their marriage and they come through it, they love each other.
And you guys are starting the season in a pretty decent place but can you sort of talk broadly about any sort of conflicts that maybe coming down the line?
Patricia Arquette: Well Ariel is growing up and she's starting to go through her teenage years so there's some conflict with her individuating from us as a family unit and trying to find her own way. You know, at a certain point kids move away from the family being the primary social important path to their own friends. So she's kind of trying to individuate and testing boundaries and that's hard I think for anyone.
Jake Weber: The struggles that Allison and her husband have always sort of seem to evolve around her sort of force of will and his pragmatism. And, you know, those conflicts are daily conflicts and they come up with, you know, frequency and they just - they work their way out but not easily, you know, they're complicated problems.
This weekend at the SAG Awards Meryl Streep in her acceptance speech spoke pretty forcefully about how great roles are for women in Hollywood. And within the context of say I guess what was it maybe five or six years ago when your sister directed this documentary called Searching for Debra Winger and I'm wondering if you can talk a little bit about how you think things have changed if they have, if they're better, if they're worse and how your experience with Medium has influenced that opinion?
Patricia Arquette: Well I think television has long been a strong supporter of women in leads, I mean, back from Lucille Ball on. It's always been a strong tradition in television and I think actresses, you know, past the (unintelligible) state, always felt like there's interesting roles for women.
The last couple of years I think has shown there's been better roles but I do think Meryl Streep is at a little bit of an advantage... people of the quality of materials she gets to choose and what she gets offered. There's many great actresses will never get in the room for a Meryl Streep part.
Patricia Arquette: But I'm glad to see more actresses having more powerful parts to play.
I'm wondering what Joe is going to be working on this season now that his sort of latest business venture has ended and...
Jake Weber: Oh Joe's in a good spot; he's got this investor who's putting up the dough for him to run his own company. And he's working in a big fancy warehouse. He has some problems finding people to work for him because he's had some bad luck with that. But he's in a good spot; he's in a big pot of honey this year.
Jake, I wanted to ask you and you can probably only speak in very general terms, of the episodes you guys have shot so far is there a particular one you really enjoyed working on, a really good Joe episode or even a scene in one that you really enjoyed so far this year?
Jake Weber: Well we haven't seen most of the episodes that we've shot this year. I really liked Arquette's episode. I thought it was a really good story line. There were some directorial problems.
Patricia Arquette: You rat bastard.
Jake Weber: She's got this weird fixation with food so she makes it - her actors eat food all the time.
Patricia Arquette: I did.
Jake Weber: Every f-ing scene that I was in I had to be eating an apple or a piece of pizza or I don't know what else - what - you kept trying to put food in my mouth.
Patricia Arquette: Well also I mean there was a scene which Glen cut that part out where you were making pancakes with the baby and I made sure that I shot in a way where I could see the baby taking the shells and throwing them in the trash like...
Jake Weber: Right.
Patricia Arquette: And then all that kind of stuff. You haven't seen my cut yet, Jake, so zip it.
Jake Weber: But...
Patricia Arquette: No bow down unto me when you do.
Jake Weber: There is a - what is the - I think the second one is pretty good; the Things to Do in Phoenix, that's pretty funny; that's some good funny stuff in there. And the Blythe Danner episode is good. She's so great, you know. She's such a doll. And the guy who does our editing, Larry Teng, directed an episode called Apocalypse Now, very good suspense; a very good sort of plotline. But, yeah, there's some good - there's some fun stuff this year. You know, things are a little - Joe's at a kind of lighter spot... and so he gets to have some fun and that makes it fun for me as an actor.
Patricia Arquette: It'll be interesting to see what happens with this, you know, I'm just (guestimating) the way the economy is right now to put so much money into a start up company that's not bringing in any money is hard to have. I mean the sad reality is that crime is good business during times like this because unfortunately it just goes up. So Allison is in this precariously unfortunate position of probably being in a job field that actually excels during this time.
You talked a little bit about some of the guest stars that you're going to be having on this season. I wanted to take off on that a little bit and ask are there any actors out there that you would really love to have on the show for whatever reason say pie in the sky if you could get anyone who would you like to see on the show and maybe what you'd like to have them play?
Patricia Arquette: Well there's so many people, my God, there's millions. So many...
Are there any sort of like ideas that you've had like oh I wish we could get, you know, a such and such type for this role or something like that or a specific example that you could give me?
Jake Weber: I'll tell you the actors that I want to see on the show are, you know, all these great actors in New York who, you know, they do a lot of theater and they don't make any money and they could use a little dough for their families and they're fantastic. And they're just not known out here in LA.
Patricia Arquette: I've always wanted to explore Allison's relationship with her mom which we've never seen her mom because she alludes sometimes to how lonely she was in discovering her abilities and how she wants it to be different for her daughter, that they don't carry around a shame or a fear of it or a trying to drink it away or any of that stuff. So I always wanted to explore her relationship with her mom. And I was always hoping that we could get Gena Rowlands in. So that's one of my little private fantasies.
Jake Weber: I have a fantasy it involves Juliette Binoche as my new French assistant.